Queensland councils seek access to growth tax

By Angela Dorizas

With the Henry Tax Review finalising its recommendations to the Australian Government, councils in Queensland have called for broad reform of the system.

Treasury Secretary Ken Henry and his tax review panel is due to report back to the Government before Christmas.

Local Government Association of Queensland president, Cr Paul Bell, has voiced concerns that the panel’s recommendations might be too narrowly focussed on federal and state levels of government.

He said the recommendations should include council access to growth tax.

“Our councils are now spending $10 billion per annum, managing $70 billion in community infrastructure and employing 40,000 people, delivering the most basic services to the community,” Cr Bell said.
He said the LGAQ supported “root and branch reform” of the total tax system.

“There is a great deal of speculation that the states will hand over much of their remaining taxation powers to the federal government in exchange for a yet-to-be-announced new revenue stream,” he said.

“New federal taxes are often mentioned, among them an urban congestion tax and a resource rent tax.
“It’s not good enough merely to sort out the states’ financial woes – unless councils are also given consideration, they will be left behind for a generation.”

Cr Bell has demanded a review of all property taxes, tax concessions, first home ownership grants and subsidies by all levels of government to the property industry.
“In our view, the report must show whether these grants and subsidies support or distort housing markets and affordability,” he said.

Cr Bill said the upcoming federal election would be contested on tax and intergovernmental relations, “more so than on climate change”.

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